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Former Whitehall Wastewater Treatment Plant (Whitehall, Muskegon County)

EGLE Site Lead: Sydney Ruhala, RuhalaS@Michigan.gov or 517-599-5356. Webpage last updated: March 14, 2022

Background

Muskegon County operated the former Whitehall Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) located at 2000 Holton-Whitehall Road from 1972 until April 2003. Treatment included an equalization basin, clarifier with sludge removal and lime conditioning, aeration basins, an aerated storage lagoon, slow-rate infiltration and spray irrigation. A groundwater collection system was used to collect infiltration/irrigation water and discharged to the White River. In April 2003, all Whitehall area wastewater was sent to the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System Metro WWTP and the Whitehall WWTP was decommissioned.

In the 1970s and 1980s, groundwater at the former Whitehall WWTP was contaminated due to lagoon leakage (i.e., a discharge of wastewater from the lagoon to the groundwater through the bottom and sides of the lagoon) and wastewater infiltration/irrigation. The source of contamination was an industry's discharge to the WWTP. The County currently operates a groundwater extraction system on-site and discharges the groundwater to the White River. The discharge is monitored in accordance with a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued to the County. 

In 2018, the County submitted a request to discontinue the groundwater extraction system. As part of the closure review process, EGLE requested the County to conduct additional groundwater monitoring, including for PFAS due to the historical industrial discharges to the former Whitehall WWTP. Groundwater monitoring was completed in fall 2021. PFOA was detected in 11 monitoring wells in exceedance of groundwater criteria. 

Groundwater flows to the northwest on the west side of the site towards the White River, while groundwater on the east side of the site flows to the northeast towards Silver Creek.

Former Whitehall Wastewater Treatment Plant

Recent Accomplishments

  • From August to October 2021, the County sampled 23 groundwater monitoring wells and one groundwater extraction well for PFAS.
  • On November 4, 2021, EGLE received results from the Fall 2021 groundwater sampling. PFAS was detected in 16 of the 23 groundwater monitoring wells and the groundwater extraction well. PFOA was detected above criteria in 11 groundwater monitoring wells with the highest PFOA detection of 1,100 parts per trillion (ppt).  
  • In November 2021, Muskegon County sampled the outfall to the White River for PFAS. PFOA was detected at 52 ppt and PFOS was not detected.

Next Steps

  • EGLE will continue to work with the County to define the extent of PFAS contamination in the groundwater and identify potential downgradient receptors.

Residential Well/Alternate Water

  • The County has routinely monitored residential wells surrounding the site for non-PFAS chemicals of concern, the majority of which are located along Mill Pond Trail and Silver Creek Drive. Whole house carbon filters and bottled water have been provided to 15 homes that have previously shown impact from contaminated groundwater at the former Whitehall WWTP.
  • EGLE, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and Public Health Muskegon County are currently working with the County to identify and sample residential wells for PFAS.

Upcoming Community Engagement

  • None scheduled at this time.

Sampling Results Summary

Type of Sample

Date Sampled
(or range)

Number of Sample
Results Received

Number of Samples
above Criteria*

Groundwater
Monitoring Wells
August - October 2021 23 11

* Residential well and groundwater monitoring well results are compared to EGLE Part 201 criteria for 7 PFAS compounds effective 12/21/2020:  PFOS (16 ppt), PFOA (8 ppt), PFNA (6 ppt), PFHxS (51 ppt), PFHxA (400,000 ppt), PFBS (420 ppt), and HFPO-DA (370 ppt).

Sampling Notes

  • None at this time.